The use of social media as a business marketing strategy is becoming commonplace in both large and small businesses. It’s hard to imagine that sites like Facebook and Instagram could offer business benefit, especially when this medium is used for so much…well…social posting.
The facts don’t lie – in 2017, the number of worldwide social media users reached almost 2 billion and is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion by 2018. Seriously…billions of people using social media? It’s astounding, and begs the question…how can multifamily marketers use social media effectively to attract and retain residents?
Following are some tips on how to integrate a social media plan into your marketing framework that is effective in generating leads, increasing demand for your properties and demonstrating value that increases your Net Operating Income (NOI.)
Make it a Must-Have
Humans are naturally creatures of habit; the tried-and-true marketing techniques of the past are what feels comfortable and easy for most multifamily managers to develop and execute. While some of these tactics are important (and necessary), the first step to an effective social media presence is to make it mandatory within your marketing plan. You must have a social media presence to not only be available for your current and potential residents, but to enhance your brand and reputation.
If you can afford to have a team member monitor Likes, Tweets and Shares within your social media channels, that’s great. But the challenge for most multifamily marketers is the limited time available to focus on social media. If that’s you, simply taking 15 minutes in the morning to check on and assess your posts and comments can greatly benefit your social footprint.
Secure a Strategy
Once you’ve jumped into the social media landscape, develop a strategy that focuses on potential residents, specifically to generate leads. The power of social media resides in its ability to connect and build relationships with others. By developing a strategy that allows for two-way communication or the asking of questions, you will promote an online interaction that can engage your potential residents.
In the multifamily industry, utilizing the “look what I have to offer” mindset in your social media strategy can be a simple way to say you’re engaged in social media – when in reality, it’s in the interaction and relationship-building that has the largest impact. Through proper engagement, your social media presence can increase demand and demonstrate the value of your social media strategy through increased lead generation.
Create and Generate Content
There are two ways to infuse content into your social media sites: through created content, developed and posted by you, and through resident/consumer generated content. Both have a place within your strategy.
- Marketing-generated content – these are the Facebook posts about leasing offers, or Instagram pictures of your new indoor swimming pool that work to inform potential residents about your properties and drive them to make a phone call or stop in for a tour. This content needs to be clearly communicated, honest and informative…not too pushy. Posting photos of available units or developing a YouTube video that “tours” one of your properties are great examples. Straight-up advertising can handle the “sales-speak” (and we’ll get to that shortly.)
- Resident-generated content – these are the posts, tweets and photos that are posted by your current or potential residents highlighting the benefits of living in your community. A selfie of one of your residents by the pool on Instagram; the “thank you” email from a resident who had help with an in-home maintenance issue, that you then post on Facebook; or the tweet from one of your residents while dining at the newest local restaurant near your community…all of these resident-generated posts create a positive reputation, and increase credibility and in turn, demand for living in your community.
While some of these social media posts will happen naturally, you can also employ the use of a specific hashtag, #ilovelivingatyourcommunityname for example, that you communicate with your residents. Another idea is to offer incentives or hold contests that encourage your residents to post their activities and comments on social media.
Content used on your social media sites, both created by you and generated by others can promote your brand and reputation, and increase demand for your property.
Measure Your Moments
Let’s not forget about measurement. In order to properly show the positive results of your social media strategy, you’ll need to define and measure certain metrics that can in turn prove the effectiveness of your tactics. The most successful marketing plans have intentional measurement strategies planned in advance, ensuring the right tools are in place for effective measurement.
Through purposeful measurement, you can assess the pros and cons of your social media strategy and adjust as needed to increase plan efficiencies, increase demand for your properties and showcase the ROI of your strategy.
Bump up the Budget
The increase in businesses utilizing social media sites means that there’s more online “clutter” to wade through before your message is seen. As you develop your social media strategy, plan to increase your social media budget as well. Facebook reports that its “organic reach” of businesses is falling, and in order to have an impact within this, the largest social media network, advertising is a must. Creating a Facebook ad can bump you to the top of your target audience’s feed; producing a simple, yet entertaining You Tube video highlighting your community amenities can be a relatively inexpensive way to generate solid leads.
The use of social media has become a necessity within your overall marketing strategy. When it’s used effectively, your posts, tweets, hashtags, shares and photos can demonstrate the value of your community, increase demand and foot traffic, and ultimately increase your NOI.